I just got back from trying to close my accounts at BNP Paribas, a huge French bank that doesn’t seem to know how to deal with non-Frenchies. My biggest problem with them is the language issue – my banker seems to have forgotten that my command of the French language is only four months old, and has talked to me like a child from what I can pick out of her garbled colloquial French.
At one point I had two employees trying to talk to me at the same time, which I finally interrupted and suggested that written interaction be easier for us all. I was flustered at this point, but apparently my adrenaline got my brain in French mode, and I was churning out appropriate conjugations for stern phrases.
I want to say that I don’t understand how people can be so dim when it comes to dealing with non-native speakers of any language, but I’ve seen it all too often in the States. Americans and French alike think that the whole world should speak a single language, but unfortunately, they don’t agree on which one!
As for me, the expatriate, please tolerate my beginner’s French, and be ready to explain yourself when I don’t understand. I really don’t want to have to get angry again.